The Great Lakes basin encompasses more than 10,000 miles of shoreline, which support many globally significant natural communities. These habitats are critical stopover areas for many waterfowl and shorebirds during migration. Seven federally threatened and endangered species are associated with Great Lakes shoreline, and some of them, such as Pitcher’s thistle and dwarf lake iris, occur nowhere else in the world. Due to their aesthetic and recreational appeal, these habitats attract significant tourism and are a major economic driver of many coastal communities.

Although they are ecologically and economically important, shorelines are also among the most threatened habitats in the basin. Development is a significant threat to biodiversity in these areas. Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation have been identified as primary threats to many coastal species, including six federally listed species. In addition, recreational activities, invasive species and disease are major threats to many coastal fish and wildlife populations.

Through a combination of restoration and protection efforts, shoreline work supported by Sustain Our Great Lakes is helping to address the threats to coastal habitats. Shoreline projects are helping to increase populations of several imperiled species, such as the Great Lakes piping plover, Pitcher’s thistle and Michigan monkeyflower. They are also helping improve the condition of productive near-shore waters that provide critical fish spawning and nursery habitats. Additionally, they are helping to ensure that shoreline habitats retain the unique beauty and recreational values that have made them major economic drivers for many communities across the basin.

Since 2006, Sustain Our Great Lakes has:

  • Awarded 35 grants for shoreline habitat restoration
  • Invested $10 million in restoration projects
  • Supported the restoration of 4,477 acres of shoreline and nearshore habitat

For more information on the shoreline habitat restoration activities supported by Sustain Our Great Lakes , please view our Coastal Habitat Fact Sheet.


Resources and References

Please click here to find additional information on critical issues and opportunities associated with shoreline habitat restoration in the Great Lakes Basin.


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